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Celebrate with Champagne in a Coupe

After the holiday time for drinking egg nogs, hot toddies, and wassails, much of the world ends the year on a zippy and festive note with champagne. I love to drink champagne from the glamorous coupe glass.
Champagne drinkers may tell you that the broad surface of the coupe allows champagne to lose its bubbles more quickly, making it less suitable for very dry champagnes. However, the coupe is very good for allowing you to fully smell the champagne. I find I can solve the bubble problem just by drinking my champagne a little bit faster!
Julia Child tried to save her bubbles from a bottle of Dom Pérignon with a stopper. She proved that the champagne was still bubbly three days later.
Dom Pérignon is credited with inventing champagne. He understood the art of blending and used grapes from different parcels of the local farmers.
Champagne was the drink of nobility. Think about the French court at Versailles. They publicized their status by the vessel from which they treated themselves with champagne.
The coupe glass is often claimed to have been modeled from Marie Antoinette’s breast down to the enunciated nipple grooved on the base of the stand. The coupe actually has its origins rooted in England but I find Marie Antoinette’s story to be more memorable (and a bit more of an ice breaking conversation starter on New Year’s Eve).
I think the coupe is so glamorous especially after watching one of my favorite movies from 1942, Casablanca. I like to imagine myself as Ingrid Bergman toasting with hunky Humphrey Bogart. Casablanca has many toasts that work well for a New Year’s Eve celebration. Some of my favorites:  Here’s looking at you kid, To America, and We’ll always have Paris.
Coupes were all the rage through the 1930s-1960s. Places like the New York’s Stork Club popularized the coupe in the 1930s when celebrities drank champagne from the coupe. We may see the romantic coupe today at weddings near the ever so popular champagne fountain.
If you’re not drinking champagne in your coupe you could always use it for a sorbet or daiquiri.

Champagne was and still is linked to celebration. Here’s to drinking many glamorous glasses of champagne in a coupe in 2012! As Marie Antoinette would have said to her court, Bonne année et bonne santé! Happy New Year to all!

Christmas Time is Here

One of the greatest Christmas albums of all time is A Charlie Brown Christmas. It is so pleasant that you can really listen to it any time of year.  My husband gives me a hard time for doing this, but he knows he married someone who wanted to name her son Charlie after Charlie Brown.

Sixty years ago, Vince Guaraldi took inspiration from Charles Schultz and created something that is unmistakably a “Guaraldi sound.” There is a comfort that comes with hearing A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Years later, the music and movie are still beloved by all ages. It doesn’t matter how many times you have seen or heard it, it’s simply a classic! Guaraldi and Schulz were a dream team complimenting each other; they were magicians.

Guaraldi said, "I want to write standards, not just hits." He did just that, his sound naturally energizes and transports you to a jazzy elegant place in time. His music is a blend of many cultures: Latin, European, and even African…it all comes together as Guaraldi.

My favorite kind of party is the kind with a piano player in the middle of the mix. A piano player is like a magician is for children; they make you smile and leave you wanting more. If the piano player plays Guaraldi, then they make you feel like a kid again. Children of all ages respond to Guaraldi’s music. I think it’s because his jaunty sound instantly puts you in a good mood.

Just like Lucy leans over Schroeder’s piano, party goers naturally want to do the same when there’s a piano player present. Holiday jazz classics spread cheer like no other style of music. Jazz is music of individualism but when you hear old standards done in a jazzy style, it is more expressive than any other kind of music. The piano has an expressive voice right through their fingertips of the musician and the music and mood of the party is created.

Harry Connick Jr, Diana Krall, and David Ian are all jazz musicians of today who have followed suit...each playing piano and creating their own voice through jazz.

Sometimes what sounds fresh are the tried and true classics just updated. That's the way I feel about David Ian's new CD, A Vintage Christmas. There is a cozy warmth felt with his mellow arrangements. Listening to I'll Be Home for Christmas, an intimate mood is created no matter where you listen. Ian's soft piano should be heard at every home this season. Whether you’re at a party or snuggled up in front of the fireplace with some eggnog at home, you will enjoy his vintage sound just as you still enjoy Guaraldi.

David Ian, an Armenian Canadian, is also a rock guitarist. His background in classical piano helped to breathe new life into jazzy Christmas standards. You can hear that Ian was definitely inspired by Guaraldi. He seems to produce that festive vintage sound of the 1950s that never gets old.

Like the song goes…Christmas Time is Here! May you ears and heart be filled with happy sounds and may you have yourself a swingin’ little Christmas!

Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of the year

Snowflakes in the air
Carols everywhere
Olden times and ancient rhymes
Of love and dreams to share

Sleigh bells in the air
Beauty everywhere
Yuletide by the fireside
And joyful memories there

Christmas time is here
We'll be drawing near
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year...

The Taste of Memory Soup

Sunday morning (my favorite time to cook) I begin to bang pots and pans getting organized before I chop my vegetables. I had gone to bed thinking about what I would make the next day. Cold weather has me craving comfort foods. Craving warm meals means I am thinking of my Polish babysitter Zofia who put cabbage in just about everything. Her soup was deliciously flavorful and made us all happy to eat it.
Zofia was someone who had survived the war and endured much more; she had a lot of good secrets and cabbage was one of them. Eating cabbage is a childhood memory that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
When we are children, the people we have in our little worlds form and shape us. As our memories grow and we age, those special times are triggered by the little things in life…a meal, a song, a figurine. We are so lucky when we find people who love our children just as a relative does. Having Zofia in my life added to my happy childhood.
It’s December and I’m shivering from the inside out, this is probably why I started craving cabbage this week. I want to feel that warm comforting feeling that I so well remember with Zofia. Well-loved memories of my babysitter have me longing for my childhood.
She made the world safe with her Polish food and songs. I wish she was still here to sing Kosi Kosi Lapci  and cook for my children as she did for me and my siblings, but life comes full circle and our children will have their own Zofia who makes the world happy and safe with mashed potatoes, tractor toys, and Backe Backe Kuchen. The paddy cake song may be in a different language but it carries that same warm feeling.
Making my shopping list for soup I write cabbage and smile. Holding the cabbage at the store I feel as though I’m holding something much more valuable like a truffle. Sometimes the special ingredient isn’t anything expensive or out of the ordinary.
When you feel chilled to the bone, begin to worry about your well-being, and your memories sneak up on you…cabbage never fails to sooth you and those you love. As I made cabbage soup I was surrounded by happy memories and I’m thankful Zofia is in my heart to help me make them for my children.
Na zdrowie

Photos of Wroclaw, Poland where Zofia was from.

Pen Pals: Writing Letters That Capture Innocent Whispers

Did you ever have a pen pal when you were younger? I had several and I’m sad to say that I’ve lost touch with most of them. I remember skipping back to the house after checking the mailbox when I was younger and I couldn’t wait to open my letter from my pen pal Susanna from Finland, Eritnatish from Iceland! Robin from Georgia, Melissa from Paris (Texas)! Holding the letter as if it were an acceptance to my favorite college; I would take in the stationary, the stamp, and especially the handwriting.
Do you ever notice how our true thoughts come out when writing a letter to a friend? It's easy to get a feel of someone’s personality by seeing their handwriting that you can’t see from the computer. I adore technology! There is instant gratification and it’s always getting better but technology is cold. Letters are warm.  Emails, tweets and texts are like short stories but a letter is more like a novel…it’s a bigger piece of the puzzle and a small clue to discovery of a mosaic of a person.

Since I was a child, I’ve loved going to the post office. I love the smell of it…musty, old, mildew, and magical! I have always loved the giddy feeling I get of dropping a letter down the blue shoot to go on an adventure. Then after impatiently waiting for the day I receive a letter back, opening up my mailbox to see if I recognize my friend’s handwriting.
I have shoeboxes full of old letters from my pen pals. I was an excellent pen pal up until college. I tried to keep up but that’s about the time “real” life starts happening and I’m sad to say, writing letters became less of a priority. Of course I still send Christmas cards and thank you notes, but those don’t tell about the random parts of your day that really let you inside to someone’s heart and help widen the world.
Last year when I read As Always, Julia I was inspired to write more letters again. I find that my thoughts flow more freely when I’m not trying to puzzle my words together on the computer…they just flow naturally like a list. There are windows throughout my day that I can find to jot down a note to a friend…whatever is happening in that moment, it’s a piece of the day that I want to share. Unlike a text or an email, a letter shows the spice of life.
Whenever I have sent a letter, I crossed my fingers that the recipient will write me back. At thirty-five, I still skip back from the mailbox, I even squeal with delight when I hold a little treasure we call a letter.
Last week I did my skip and squeal as I held a handful of precious treasures! Twenty-six beautiful letters (written in French) from seven and eight year olds and personally addressed to each of my second grade students. Oui, we have pen pals!!
Another reason I love technology is that you can meet and learn about interesting people all around the world. Aidan is a fellow Texan, she is my friend, but we have never met. I feel as though I know her from her writing on her blog conjucatingirregularverbs and I hope that one day our families really will meet. Aidan’s oldest son is a second grader in France and it is with her son’s classroom that we have found our pen pals.
My class was really happy and fascinated to learn more about a child their age that speaks a different language and lives a whole big blue ocean away. In my thirteen years teaching, this was one of my most happy teaching moments EVER!
I was hearing my class gasp with excitement and question everything. “Oh, Mrs. Cooley, my pen pal writes in cursive so well! Can you teach us how to write like this? Mrs. Cooley, my pen pal wants me to teach him American football but I’m not going to France anytime soon! What do I say? Mrs. Cooley, my pen pal does flamenco dancing…what is that?”  This is a perfect example of how children can teach each other. It was a lesson in handwriting, language, social studies, and reading all in one setting!
When I compare my class’ letters to the letters of their French pen pals, I see all kinds of possibilities…They will improve their writing skills and be motivated to improve their handwriting. They could continue to write to each other and one day possibly meet. But most importantly, it opens the door for culture. Pen pals can enjoy seeing postcards, stamps, practice learning a foreign language, and have a friend in a different part of the world.  
I saw firsthand the light turn on in my second graders eyes, they want to know more about life in France from a personal view of children their age. My thrill is in the pride I see in their eyes as they realize they are breathing life into an envelope and likewise as they anticipate inhaling the mysteries of replies.
The letters they wrote back to their French pen pals were sweet and charming. “Have you seen the Eiffel Tower? One day could you teach me how to play rugby? Do you have pizza in France? Do you have any pets? When I explained to one of my students what flamenco dancing was, she said, “Ooh…we have a lot in common, I cheer!”
Mark Twain said, “Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man- the biography of the man himself cannot be written.” I think it can be written through a letter; the clothes and buttons are but the paper and pencil.

Pilobolus Dance Company: charming audiences with their je ne sais quoi

You know that feeling you get when you dream you're flying? Well, that’s the feeling created by watching Pilobolus; watching them is like being in a dream world. I imagine the Paul Klee painting "Fish Magic" scene because only in this dream world would underwater skating and roly-poly people co-exist. Pilobolus Dance Company recently performed to a sold out show in Dallas at the AT&T Performing Arts Center's Winspear Opera House. They are known to morph into words, animals, flowers, cars…

Pilobolus is based in Washington Depot, Connecticut and was formed by six Dartmouth College students in 1971. Most of the original dancers are now the artistic directors and the company still remains small like they began with four men and two women. This modern dance troupe turned forty this year. They have appeared on the Tonight Show, Sesame Street, and CBS’s 60 Minutes and performed all over the world receiving numerous awards.
I love the fact that Pilobolus has worked with one of my favorite children’s writer and illustrator, Maurice Sendak. Also impressive and fitting for Pilobolus is their work with the writer for SpongeBob Square Pants, Steven Banks. The dance company has a flair for slapstick so it’s suitable that they worked with Banks who graduated from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.

Their dance is a mix of athleticism and illusionism. They create art by defying gravity with gymnastics and weight sharing. They are strong…incredibly strong. I’ve always associated Pilobolus with Cirque de Soleil for the way they make you say wow, how did they do that? Everything they do is so filled with magic and wonderment that you can’t help but gasp and say ahh!
Watching them dance is like watching a curious child make a new discovery. I felt like I was in another world…a mysterious underwater or outer-space backdrop where everything is in slow motion. 
Their dancing is poetic; sometimes poetry can be hard to understand, and as with all art, everyone will take and see something in their own way. What I read into most of the dances were the stories were about LOVE…counting on someone you trust to be there for you, to pick you up, hold you, hug you, support you…
My favorite performance of the night was SpongeBob’s writer Banks Transformation, in which a woman is playfully transformed into a half-human/half-dog creature by a giant hand that molds her. Transformation has a puppet-like feel and is whimsically delightful to watch.
Gnomen took me to Africa with it's tribal like feel. It explored balance with four men showing amazing control. Pilobolus breaks the seriousness when you don’t expect it. The audience was tickled when some of the men performing Gnomen pretend to bang the head of their partner to emphasize the gong sound in the musical score by Paul Sullivan.  In the end they raise one man up to the heavens and the audience was led to willingly believe that he would really start floating up.
Duet was a gentle and slow spiral dance that left you feeling calm.  The medieval Norwegian songs also induced a bit of a trance while watching the dancers circle around.
Like many dance companies, Pilobolus gives back to their community and works with children and adults. They like to watch them use their untrained natural abilities to make organic shapes on their own. The company members are teaching creative thinking and how to be both a leader and a follower.
Artistic director of Pilobolus, Robby Barnett says this about making connections outside of the dance floor, “The more I do outside of dance, the more I have to bring to my interest in dance. It’s sort of like cross-training I guess.”

Très Ashley Gift Guide 2011


The holidays are here and it's time to go shopping. I've got some ideas for everyone on your list that I think you'll like. To me a personalized gift is the most thoughtful... something with a hand-embroidered initial or a photo... When in doubt, make it personal. Consider handmade gifts from or and always try to give something you know they would like. For the person who has everything, give the gift of an to a show, a destination or to try something they've always dreamed of. For men, can satisfy their dream to drive a race car or fly an airplane. There's personally in personal shopping. I’m sure you feel the same way I do…I absolutely love finding the perfect gift!     

For the Kids

Pirate checker board to keep things interesting in the game room. $225.00
Picture puzzle for those family get togethers, a puzzle gets everyone involved. $13.99

Bearded Beanie for baby to keep him warm like a lumberjack. $39.00   
Dimdi art is work done by an Italian artist who creates lovely watercolors of your favorite animals and pets. $25.00 
Lego Star Wars Visual Dictionary  It even comes with a lego guy, need I say more? $13.40

Hot Wheel Wall Tracks Starter Set My son will love creating tons of stunts on this wall tracks set and I love that we don't have to lose floor space because the tracks can be hung on the wall or on a door using 3M command strips that won't leave a mark. Brilliant! $37.97

Princess Glitter Gown What little girl doesn't love to play dress up? Neiman Marcus has many beautiful princess gowns to choose from. I like the princess pointed hat that goes with this Rapunzel looking gown. $68.00
For the Kitchen
Kitchen Magic Twisty Whisk in mint from Anthropologie will make your recipient's kitchen cheerful $8.00
All-Clad Slow Cooker with Ceramic Insert from William Sonoma is sure to make everyone's tummy happy and kitchen inviting $179.95

Dark Chocolate Balsamic is perfect drizzling on vanilla ice cream or cheese plates.  $14.95
Dean and Deluca wine club each month your gift recipient will receive two amazing wines
For Mom and Dad
Helen Ficalora jewelry is as fun to say as it is to wear. A perfect way to celebrate life's milestones with style.
Stripe and Field stationary will make mailboxes more colorful. $48.00 for a box set
Cell Phone Lenses that work with any camera phone. If you like the instagram app, you'll love these three small yet powerful lenses: the Fisheye, Telephoto, and Macro/Wide Angle Cell Phone Lenses. $49.00 for all three
Shearling-lined boots by L.L. Bean will keep your man's feet toasty warm this season. $154.00
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier  is a book that looks at Gaultier’s fashion shows and examines his visionary reflection of society’s evolution over the past thirty-five years.
For Razzle Dazzle
Pinhole Press Wine Labels will help you bring in the new year with unique and personal style $8.99
The Homesick Texan cookbook is the book every cook wants this season. You don't have to be from Texas to appreciate the comfort of Texan home cooking. Think cheese enchiladas, coffee-chipotle oven brisket, chicken-fried steak, coconut tres leches cake...  $17.49
Kate Spade "Spike the Punch" sweater is sure to make you feel like the life of the party. $195.00
Partridge In A Pear Tree Ornament Michael Aram's six inch tall plated ornament is a treasure of a decoration $49.00  

For more ideas see last year's gift guide here and happy shopping!   

Scent of a Woman: Diane

Perfume has power; an alluring scent makes a lasting impression. A woman’s fragrance is like a DVF dress, it’s about the way you feel when you put it on…sexy, confident, and classic; and like a DVF dress, perfume should keep speaking even if no one is talking.
Women have been seducing men for hundreds of years with their scent. It has been said that Cleopatra conquered the Romans with her perfume. This is the power of fragrance. Christian Dior said, “Long after one has forgotten what a woman wore, the memory of her perfume lingers.” I’m sure King Solomon couldn’t remember what Cleopatra was wearing because he was hypnotized by her scent.
Diane von Furstenberg was in Dallas last Tuesday to launch her new fragrance Diane at Sephora in North Park. Watching Diane on Good Morning Texas I was tickled to hear her say, “Dallas has the most beautiful women in the world...Dallas is special.” 

Diane von Furstenberg’s new fragrance Diane has musky notes of patchouli, frangipani and violet flowers. It is seductive, mysterious and impossible to forget. Sephora describes it beautifully, “Built up like one of her dresses: it wraps up a woman’s body and stays with her all day long.” Her slogan for the fragrance is “Be the woman you want to be.”  
The beautiful ice sculpture bottle was inspired by the golden links of her sutra bracelets she wears. Carved into her bracelets are Diane’s mantras "love, laughter, freedom, harmony, truth, confidence and life.” I think you can sense the powerful aroma of her fragrance in her mantras.
Diane von Furstenberg, the Belgian-American designer was born the same year as my dad. Diane has said, “Beauty is perfect in its imperfections, so you just have to go with the imperfections.” I love the fact that the designer, who is sixty-four, has never had any plastic surgery and doesn’t plan to.
Diane has had a fascinating life! She married a prince in 1969. Her company was founded in 1972. She is most well known for her iconic wrap dress and her signature prints. All this time, Diane has been hobnobbing with the glamorous glitterati and has been photographed more than any designer.
Mario Testino who has photographed Diane told her to always smile big so she looks joyful in every shot and she truly does; she has a definite sense of self and exudes confidence.
Her fashion empire includes: clothing, shoes, bags, jewelry, luggage, tableware, bedding, and now fragrance. Diane is actually her second fragrance following Tatiana.
The DVF legacy is similar to Coco Chanel’s. They each invented their own feminine and modern style that has remained relevant for decades.
She likes the fact that her customers are so young; it makes her feel current. Her customers range in age from eighteen to eighty-eight.
I can’t help but think of Diane as I read Elaine Sciolino’s La Seduction. Even though she isn’t French, she has that obvious joie de vivre and a soft feminine power that only a woman can command. I believe Diane has the art of seduction down pretty well, in fact I can smell it!
If I were a celebrity, creating a fragrance would be first on my list of things I would do. There are very few designer fragrances I love. Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely and Stella McCartney’s Stella are two of my favorites. Fragrance is so personal; it envelopes you as a person but also takes on the environment you’re in. As Diane says, “fragrance is about addiction and memory.” Diane has that je ne sais quoi that you don’t forget.
I wore Diane to a local fashion show and dinner out with my girlfriends this past Friday. After leaving a crowded night spot, I could still smell Diane in my hair (not the smoke). I like a fragrance that can stay with you through the variable elements of life. I imagine Diane thought about this from her Studio 54 nights.
When sampling scents at a counter at Neiman Marcus recently, the salesclerk had me smell a few different perfumes. When I told her which scent I preferred, she replied, “Aww…I can tell you are a good girl!” There is a definite yin and yang in fragrances, contrasting flowers just like the many personalities we wear. I may be a good girl, but I might like for some people to catch a whiff of something mysterious that leads them to ponder whether I’m always good! With fragrance, I think we can all be like Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” because it simply depends on how we want to smell.

A sick day, a snow day, a just say no day

There are days when we should stop and smell the chicken and dumplings and listen to some Christmas carols. Sometimes when we are so consistently scheduled, it feels really good to break the pattern. When you have a sick child, things have to change and we are all forced to slow down and say no to obligations. In a way it is a blessing! It's like a bonus day, a snow day...when you have the time for more of those things you don't usually get to enjoy as long as you wish like coloring, cooking, and cuddling.

You know how there’s a Seinfeld episode for everything that happens to us in life? I think the same is true for Beatles songs…After a long week at work, I kept having a Beatles soundtrack in my head that related to how I was feeling…It’s been a Hard Days Night and we keep having to Come Together at work when all I want to say is Don’t Bother Me because I’m so Tired. I know that All Things Must Pass so I’ll say Ob-La-Di and when I need some, I’ll yell HELP and I Call Your Name!
After singing these songs in my head for a few days, my daughter got sick. I thought…more stress, but it was truly a blessing because I was forced to slow down with her and just breathe. We curled up together sharing a blanket and colored princesses. Isn’t it true that once we relax, answers to problems will often be revealed? What had seemed like such a big deal becomes much less of one. Then we can be more productive in every area… maybe we all need to color more.
I remember enjoying sick days at home from school when my mom would set me up on the sofa with chicken noodle soup, hot tea, warm blankets, a fire in the fireplace, and I Love Lucy. I felt warm, safe, and secure. Nothing beats home when you are exhausted and curling up in your little mom-made cocoon is pure happiness. “Stay-at-home” mom is the dream job for most working moms, but it has a more special meaning on a sick day. We all deserve some “stay-at-home” time. Make sure you take advantage of yours when you can.
Sometimes the most urgent and vital thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest.
~Ashleigh Brilliant
How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward.
~Spanish Proverb

Rest when you're weary. Refresh and renew yourself,
your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.
~Ralph Marston
There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. ~Sylvia Plath
“I cannot go to school today,”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox.
And there’s one more—that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue—
It might be instamatic flue.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broken—
My hips hurt when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb,
I have a silver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is—what?
What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is… Saturday?
G’bye, I’m going out to play!”
~ Shel Silverstein

For your next “stay-at-home” day! Hopefully it will be a “snow day” and not a “sick day!” Read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, listen to She and Him, A Very She & Him Christmas, eat chicken and dumplings, feel a cashmere sweater against your skin, and sip and smell some peppermint tea. You’ll be feeling better before you know it.

Chicken and Dumplings
8 chicken thighs (with skin and bones)
Dredge in and brown in 2-3T vegetable oil:
½ flour
Generous amount of salt
½ t cayenne
¼ t black pepper
Sweat in 1 T vegetable oil:
3 leeks, white and light green part sliced in half moons
2 celery ribs diced
2 carrots, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled, cut into chunks
2 parsnips, peeled, diced
2 bay leaves
Deglaze with 1 C dry white wine
Stir in ¼ C more of flour
Gradually add 6 C chicken broth
Stir in browned chicken and juices
2 t fresh lemon juice
1 t sage and rosemary
For the dumplings:
1 ½ C flour
1 C parmesan cheese, grated
2 ½ t baking powder
2 t sugar
Salt and pepper
1 C whole milk
4 T butter

Preheat oven to 375. Cut chicken into large pieces. Combine flour and seasonings in a resalable plastic bag. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess in a deep oven proof pot, heat 1 T oil over med-high. Brown half the chicken; transfer to a plate. Brown the rest in a bit more oil then remove and reduce heat. Sweat the vegetables and bay leaves in oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with wine; simmer until almost evaporated. Stir in flour to coat vegetables. Gradually add broth then chicken. Cover pot and transfer to the oven; cook for 20 minutes. While stew is in the oven, make dumpling dough. Stir in lemon juice, and herbs before adding dumplings. Blend dry ingredients for dumplings in a mixing bowl. Heat milk and butter until butter melts; blend into dry ingredients. Shape using a small ice cream scoop then drop dumplings into the simmering stew. Braise in oven until dumplings are cooked through, about 20 minutes. 

Here’s to another week and wishing for Good Day Sunshine!